Electric Kilns and Firing

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What is the course about?

This course gives you all the information you need to select, maintain and fire an electric kiln in a safe and efficient way. It also goes over what happens to clays and glazes when they are fired.

What are the Dates?

19 January - 9 March 2022
Eight weekly sessions
Held live at 19:00 – 20:30 UK time, with recordings available afterwards for those who cannot attend the live times.
Additional discussion sessions will be set up at other times for those who are using the recorded sessions - dates and times of these to be set at the start of the course.

What will we cover?

The course covers everything you are likely to need to know about electric kilns and firing them.It is ideal for you if you've just bought a kiln and want to get to grips with it, or if you use a studio where work is fired for you and you want to understand what happens, or if you've had a kiln for a while but aren't sure if you're getting the most out of it.

The course covers choosing, installing and maintaining your kiln; kiln safety; how a kiln heats up, how we measure it with thermocouples and cones, and how we control it with the kiln controller; what happens to clays and glazes during the firing; how best to load your kiln and when to unload it; and firing faults, their prevention and cure.

The course doesn’t deal with defunct technology such as kiln sitters or kilns controlled manually through dials.

What will I achieve?

By the end of this course you should have achieved the following:

  • Identify and understand all the components found in an electric kiln and its controller
  • Know what to look for when buying a kiln, whether new or 2nd hand
  • Understand the mechanisms by which a kiln heats up, and how different materials used in kiln construction and in kiln furniture (shelves etc.) behave
  • Understand temperature and heatwork, and how they are measured
  • Understand how clays and glazes, and their constituent materials, are transformed through the firing process, and what fumes may be given off from the kiln
  • Loading and unloading your kiln, including the best spacing of shelves and positionimg of pots
  • Understand and use your kiln controller, and monitor your firing
  • Determining the best firing schedules for your work
  • Identify firing faults, their identification and cure
  • Understand safety issues - heat, electricity, and fumes
  • Learn about kiln maintenance, and how to diagnose faults
  • Know about how to install the kiln

What do I get?

  • Eight live lectures with questions and discussions, lasting about 90 minutes each week
  • Recordings of all lectures for later viewing
  • Four discussion periods during the course - for students unabe to attend the live sessions duplicate discussion sessions will be set up on times/days to suit the course participants
  • Additional online course material, giving background info and greater depth
  • Dedicated online forum for discussion by all students on the course, that I check at least once a day
  • Downloadable PDFs of all presentations
  • Premium level access to the Tech part of my web site, containing much more information, references etc.
  • Course completion certificate

Note that the forum, lecture recordings and premium level site access are included at no cost until 4 weeks after the end of the course. After that, comtinued access is available for just the cost of buying me a coffee every month (US$3 a month).

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Beginner to intermediate.

You should have some experience of making and firing pots in a pottery studio, whether you do the firing or it is done for you.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course is primarily run through the weekly online sessions, which are a live lecture where you can also ask questions or get a discussion going.

Additiional material that you may wish to explore is on the course website. This will help you go deeper into the subject matter, should you wish to do so.

There will be four discussion periods during the course, where we can discuss any of the course material or any questions you may have about kilns and firing. These will be at the end of selected sessions, and also will be set up for other days and times for those who cannot attend the live sessions, whether due to time zones or other commitments.

In addition, the course has an online forum that you can use at any time.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs or requirements.

Do I get a certificate or anything at the end?

Yes. A course completion certificate (as a PDF) will be sent to all those who wish to receive one.

Feedback from students

This is a new course, but below is some of the feedback I've received from other online courses I've run:

I am an amateur ceramicist with my own studio space in our garden shed. Without formal qualifications in ceramics I was a bit lost on how to deal with health and safety regulations and where to find them. This course was really useful and reassuring to me. The concise format and links to Tim's website provide an excellent source to turn to, and are based on proper official guidelines. Thank you Tim!

Well prepared, interesting and informative course.
London, UK

The course gives a good level of studio best practice, and health and safety, to those that have found ceramics later in life and haven't trained from a young age or worked as Technicians. The course covers everything that may not be found on standard pottery courses for those that want to think about setting up their own studio. Tim is clearly very knowledgeable, and happy to share that knowledge to keep potters safe!
Newcastle, UK